I love my phone. It keeps me connected to my family and friends, it keeps me aware of current events, it provides me with inspiration whenever I might need it, and it gives me instant access to interesting [or deliciously useless] information. I hate my phone for all of the same reasons.
>>> Personal phone history: Most of my friends got a phone in 2001, right after 9/11. Our high school was just outside Manhattan, so a lot of parents wanted their kids to have one for emergencies. At that point I really didn’t care whether I got one, and since I was rarely by myself, my parents figured it wasn’t necessary. Cut to December 2004 when cell phones became MUCH more common– I wanted one pretty bad and my parents very kindly obliged. They gave me a cuuute silver flip-phone for my birthday. Loved that thing! All you could really do with it was call, text, calculate, and play games. It was simpler then. Picture it with me, folks. Anyway, about 5 years later, I got my first smartphone and I’d say that’s when the love/hate relationship really began.<<<
When I contemplate my cell phone usage, I remind myself of the fact that I existed without one for 17 years, and without a smartphone for even longer. I also think about what that really means. What is it that I really went without until then? The main thing that comes to mind is constant connection.
While I am very grateful that my loved ones and I are so available to each other [for support, for emergencies, and for FUN], being constantly connected to them gets really overwhelming for me sometimes. My current struggles with this:
- I feel guilty if I don’t answer in a timely manner, so it feels like I’m always texting in order to stay caught up. I don’t want to be on my phone that much, so finding a good balance has proven tough for me.
- It can be tiring to be part of multiple conversations at once, and I get very invested when it comes to my friends and family. It’s important to me that each person knows that I’ve really heard them. So, I often wait until I can fully pay attention and respond thoughtfully. This sometimes causes a pile-up of open threads that leave me feeling kind of anxious.
- Just the thought of being available to so many people [and even having them available to me] is overwhelming. I am not so sure that this is a state we should all constantly be in.
I have instant access to information. Whenever I want to, I can hop on my phone and see what’s currently unfolding in the world. If I’d like, I can read and learn ALL about the mechanics or the history of- well, almost anything. It is absolutely fantastic, but there is a degree of pressure that comes along with it for me. My thinking is that because I have so much valuable information available to me, I feel like I should be accessing it often. I do take advantage of it, but I’m always asking myself if it’s enough. Uncle Ben’s quote “with great power comes great responsibility” comes to mind. There is so much power and knowledge at my fingertips 24/7, but do I use it well and responsibly?
Some might read all of this and think “wow, she’s thinking about this waaaay too much.” I don’t think I am. I believe everyone should be giving at least some degree of thought to how they use their technology each day. For me, there always seems to be an ebb and flow when it comes to my phone usage. I’ll get a handle on it for a time, but then it just gets away from me and I’m forced to have this conversation with myself and reign it back in again. I hope that I’ll eventually find the secret sauce for this but until that time comes, I will keep questioning and experimenting.
Really, at the end of the day, this a terrific problem to solve.